A suppressed FN SCAR with the XS Products 50-round, 5.56mm…

A suppressed FN SCAR with the XS Products 50-round, 5.56mm drum in place. Note how compact the magazine is compared with many other high-capacity options.

I have to admit to being one of those old dinosaurs who never saw a single 30-round M16 magazine during their entire military career. About all you can say about the 20-rounders we did carry was that they were a heck of a lot lighter than the standard M14 mags the Army issued us at the time. The move to 30-round magazines was a step in the right direction. But anything beyond that in the conventional banana-shape mag presents problems for those who prefer to keep their exposure to return fire to a minimum. As the old line in Vietnam went, “I would cut the buttons of my fatigues if I thought it would help me get closer to the ground!”

James Malarkey demonstrates his own drum magazine on the 7.62mm PWS MK216. When I fired this weapon, the magazine functioned flawlessly for all 50 rounds.

While there are a number of drum-type magazines on the market, rule one is that, if they don’t offer near-perfect reliability, then it’s better to stay with the standard 30. Thanks to an invite from James Malarkey of XS Products, I had a chance to spend a range day with XS Products’ 50-round drum magazines. After firing somewhere between 500 and a 1,000 rounds through a number of different rifles in semi- and full-auto, I came away impressed.

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